I love doing patchwork. It's my hobby and the best way to relax at the same time. Although it is a bit time-consuming, once you try the first pieces you will want to do more. Those who don't know what patchwork is can read further and hopefully enjoy this simple text about a free time activity that is quite popular in the USA and became part of its folklore.
Patchwork is a specific way of sewing different pre-cut shapes of cloth together to create an original pattern that is used to decorate a blanket or a tablecloth or even handbags or whatever you want.
The technique is over five thousand years old. In USA, the original settlers wanted to make use of old clothes so they cut the fabric that was still useful into pieces and created new pieces of clothing. Patchwork became popular in Europe, too. Originally, patchwork pieces were handmade. These days a sewing machine can be used to speed up the process of creating this wonderful work. Nowadays in America or the UK there are a lot of shops with special tools and cloth for patchwork. Let's have a look at the basic steps to make a patchwork baby blanket, for example.
1. Find some cloth that you like. It can be used or new, it's up to you. Preferably, find 100% cotton fabric. Pre-wash the fabric in the washing machine at 40°C. Let it dry and iron it. Your fabric is now ready.
2. Now you have to cut the fabric into the shapes you like. If you do patchwork for the first time, it is better to choose a simple shape like a square. The size of one piece can be for example 14 cm x 14 cm. Based on the desired width and length of the blanket, count up how many squares you will need. Just bear in mind that sewing the pieces together will take up about one centimeter on each side of the square.
3. Arrange your own color pattern. There are a lot of patterns that you can create and that is why each piece of work is original if you don't repeat it in exactly the same way.
4. Now you have to sew the squares together. Use pins if it will help you. Start sewing two squares together and then create a row. Use iron to flatten the row. Sew another row. Before you sew all the rows together you have to make sure that the squares fit. Again, use pins to help you. When you have all the rows sewn together, iron your patchwork to make it flat and to give it a professional look. The piece you have made is called TOP.
5. The next step is to make a so-called 'sandwich' which is also known as QUILT. The top has to be shorter than the two layers below . The middle layer can be thicker, it depends on how warm you want the blanket to be. The bottom layer can be white, cream or whatever color fits the TOP. Pin the three layers together to prevent them from moving and quilt them. Quilting means sewing from the center of your work towards edges. The way you quilt is up to you. You can even quilt flowers and various patterns or ornaments on the blanket.
6. The last step is to finish your work with nice edges. Again, there are more techniques to do it. A method of doing this in a simple way is to cut four strips of cloth. They must be longer then the actual length of the "sandwich". If your blanket is rectangular in shape, sew the longer strips first. Then sew the shorter strips. Fold the edges and clean them up.
Doing patchwork requires some time but it is rewarding to see the results. If you decide to make it as a present for your family or close friends they will get an original piece of work filled with the "energy" you put in it and something like that is imposible to buy in a shop. Doing patchwork is a fantastic way to relax if you are determined to enjoy it.